Ru-Rong Ji

Professor in Anesthesiology
Distinguished Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology, in the School of Medicine
Professor in Neurobiology
Professor in Cell Biology
Email address:

Chronic pain is a major health problem in the US, affecting 100 million Americans. The long-term goal of the lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the genesis of chronic pain and, furthermore, to develop novel pain therapeutics that can target these mechanisms. We are interested in the following questions. (1) How do neuroinflammation and activation of glial cells (microglia and astrocytes) regulate pain and spinal cord synaptic plasticity via neuro-glial and neuro-immune interactions? (2) How do secreted miRNAs regulate neuronal signaling and synaptic transmission and pain as novel neuromodulators and pain mediators? (3) How do pro-resolution lipid mediators such as resolvins and protectin control pain via GPCR and arrestin signaling? (4) Do pain and itch share similar mechanisms? (5) How does Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in primary sensory neurons regulate pain and itch? (6) How can bone marrow stem cells produce long-term pain relief via secreting anti-inflammatory and trophic factors? We employ a multidisciplinary approach that covers in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo electrophysiology, neuronal and glial cell biology, transgenic mice, and behaviors.

Education and Training

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences (China), Ph.D. 1990

Associated Faculty Labs

Department Affiliation

  • Department of Anesthesiology


Luo, Xin, Ouyang Chen, Zilong Wang, Sangsu Bang, Jasmine Ji, Sang Hoon Lee, Yul Huh, et al. “IL-23/IL-17A/TRPV1 axis produces mechanical pain via macrophage-sensory neuron crosstalk in female mice.” Neuron 109, no. 17 (September 2021): 2691-2706.e5.
Zhao, Junli, Alexus Roberts, Zilong Wang, Justin Savage, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Emerging Role of PD-1 in the Central Nervous System and Brain Diseases.” Neurosci Bull 37, no. 8 (August 2021): 1188–1202.
Baldwin, Katherine T., Christabel X. Tan, Samuel T. Strader, Changyu Jiang, Justin T. Savage, Xabier Elorza-Vidal, Ximena Contreras, et al. “HepaCAM controls astrocyte self-organization and coupling.” Neuron 109, no. 15 (August 2021): 2427-2442.e10.
Wang, Kaiyuan, Christopher R. Donnelly, Changyu Jiang, Yihan Liao, Xin Luo, Xueshu Tao, Sangsu Bang, et al. “STING suppresses bone cancer pain via immune and neuronal modulation.” Nat Commun 12, no. 1 (July 27, 2021): 4558.
Chen, Yong, Zi-Long Wang, Michele Yeo, Qiao-Juan Zhang, Ana E. López-Romero, Hui-Ping Ding, Xin Zhang, et al. “Epithelia-Sensory Neuron Cross Talk Underlies Cholestatic Itch Induced by Lysophosphatidylcholine.” Gastroenterology 161, no. 1 (July 2021): 301-317.e16.
Mwirigi, Juliet, Moeno Kume, Shayne N. Hassler, Ayesha Ahmad, Pradipta R. Ray, Changyu Jiang, Alexander Chamessian, et al. “A Role for Protease Activated Receptor Type 3 (PAR3) in Nociception Demonstrated Through Development of a Novel Peptide Agonist.” The Journal of Pain 22, no. 6 (June 2021): 692–706.
McGinnis, Aidan, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Can a Western high-fat diet lead to painful neuropathy?” Nat Metab 3, no. 6 (June 2021): 735–36.
Bang, Sangsu, Christopher R. Donnelly, Xin Luo, Maria Toro-Moreno, Xueshu Tao, Zilong Wang, Sharat Chandra, Andrey V. Bortsov, Emily R. Derbyshire, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Activation of GPR37 in macrophages confers protection against infection-induced sepsis and pain-like behaviour in mice.” Nat Commun 12, no. 1 (March 17, 2021): 1704.
Deerhake, M Elizabeth, Keiko Danzaki, Makoto Inoue, Emre D. Cardakli, Toshiaki Nonaka, Nupur Aggarwal, William E. Barclay, Ru-Rong Ji, and Mari L. Shinohara. “Dectin-1 limits autoimmune neuroinflammation and promotes myeloid cell-astrocyte crosstalk via Card9-independent expression of Oncostatin M.” Immunity 54, no. 3 (March 9, 2021): 484-498.e8.
Donnelly, Christopher R., Changyu Jiang, Amanda S. Andriessen, Kaiyuan Wang, Zilong Wang, Huiping Ding, Junli Zhao, et al. “STING controls nociception via type I interferon signalling in sensory neurons.” Nature 591, no. 7849 (March 2021): 275–80.